The UK's 39 bike hire schemes are at the forefront of tackling car mileage, removing 3.7 driven miles per user every week, according to a report from Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK).
The charity promotes the environmental, economic, health and social benefits of shared transport for the public good, and published its annual report, showing the extent to which cycle hire schemes help users replace car journeys.
For each user of bike share schemes in Britain, an estimated 3.7-mile reduction in car mileage was seen every week.
The study also showed that half of users (53 per cent) would have made their last trip by car or taxi if bike share had not been available.
CoMoUK published the findings in its sixth annual bike share report, revealing there were 22,789 bikes in operation last year and 41,599 average trips made each day.
In total, there are now 39 schemes in the UK, including 21 locations with e-bikes — new sites in Cambridge and York opened during 2021.
More than 4,000 users took part in the report, with CoMoUK concluding the findings prove "bike share schemes are a key tool in the UK's journey to net zero and can improve the country's physical and mental wellbeing".
Of those surveyed, 49 per cent said joining a bike share scheme was a catalyst to them cycling for the first time in at least a year, including six per cent who took up cycling for the first time.
Of those using e-bikes, 34 per cent said they were replacing car or taxi trips of more than five miles per week, compared to 24 per cent of non e-bike users.
On average, there was an estimated 3.7 car miles and 1kg of CO2e every week per user, and 20 per cent of respondents said using a bike share was the only moderate to vigorous exercise they got on a weekly basis.
Chief executive of CoMoUK, Richard Dilks, said the report proved bike share is a catalyst for the British public re-engaging with cycling.
"Bike share supports health and wellbeing, triggers sustainable travel behaviours, cuts car miles and works alongside bike ownership," he said.
"There are many personal benefits of taking up cycling and it’s encouraging to see e-bikes becoming increasingly popular – with no significant age differences between e-bike riders and the whole group, demonstrating their appeal to all generations.
"Ultimately, if we are to achieve our ambitious net zero targets, we need to address the issue of private vehicle ownership, which massively contributes to the UK’s emissions.
"Shared transport such as bike share schemes, along with car clubs, demand responsive transport and e-scooters, alongside public transport, are the key to achieving our goals."
2021 was a record year for the UK's largest bicycle hire scheme, with Transport for London reporting more than 10.9 million Santander Cycles hires across the year, while also announcing e-bikes are coming to the fleet in 2022.
In the Welsh capital, Nextbike last month resumed its South Wales cycle hire scheme following a short suspension of the project due to "staggering" vandalism and theft.
Likewise, Mayor Andy Burnham welcomed Manchester's latest bike share project by asking residents to not vandalise bikes or chuck them in the city's canals.
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